Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moses & Bean #4

Title: Moses & Bean
Issue: #4
Date: December, 2010
Publisher: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan
Writer: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan
Artist: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan

This is the "Animal Issue", and it prefaces each of its three stories with some helpful facts about the animal in question

First up is "Mole", about Bean's activities taking in and caring for wild animals. Well, more taking in, and less caring for. Bean might or might not learn a valuable lesson from this.

The second story involves the parents and rented goats.

Finally, there's a slightly creepy wordless (aside from the intro) story about termites.

Very effective art and good layouts in this minicomic. I like the characters , and the different kinds of interactions with the animals were fascinating. I learned a little bit from reading this too.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Amazing Cynicalman #27

Title: The Amazing Cynicalman
Issue: #27
Date: 2010
Publisher: Not Available Comics
Writer: Matt Feazell
Artist: Matt Feazell

Cynicalman encounters his evil twin, who proves to me more annoying than evil. Also in this quarter-sized mini, writer/artist Matt Feazell takes on the General Motors bailout and the IRS. Actually, it's Stupid Boy who takes on the IRS. As you might imagine, this does not end well.

Feazell's stick figure art continues to be a remarkably efficient storytelling medium, and his wit is as sharp as ever in this collection. Funny stuff.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unnecessary Accessory #1

Another minicomic that Gynn brought home from Space. Slowly working our way through that stack.

Title: Unnecessary Accessory
Issue: #1
Date: 2009
Publisher: Brian Hagen
Writer: Brian Hagen
Artist: Brian Hagen

Three unconnected stories in this half-sized minicomic. First up is "Dead in a Dream", which examines the concept of dying in real life if you die in a dream. The narrator has dreamed of his own death and survived the experience just fine, but it's not death itself that bothers him.

Second story is "Shut Up God", which is a conversation between two drinkers at a bar that covers a range of topics, particularly what one does if one can hear the voice of God. It's a really good dialogue that makes some good points and tackles its subject matter from a pretty unique perspective.

The mini ends with "Girls + Boys", a one-page reflection on the breakup process.

These were all well thought out with good clean page layouts, simple but effective art, and touches of humor.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, March 28, 2011

Plastic Farm #2

I'm still working on the big stack of comics my wife brought home from SPACE, and today I attended the Southcoast Toy & Comic Show. I'm going to try to do double duty for a bit to catch up.

Title: Plastic Farm
Issue: #2
Date: 2003
Publisher: Plastic Farm Press
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Rafer Roberts
Backup Story By: Jeff Coleman, Stephen Greenwood-Hyde

The second issue shows us Chester "Cheezer" Carter a bit older, and stuck in a snowed-in airport along with one cynical woman bartender and one lecherous baggage handler. Chester pulls up a barstool and tells the story of his youth in an orphanage run by a religious order that occupied a building previously used to house a psychiatric hospital (complete with all of the "old insane asylum" trimmings).

A lot of the descriptions were over-the-top to the point of being clearly black comedy, which was an effective way of presenting Chester's "origin" as something completely outrageous. I particularly liked the present version of the character, as the readers get let in on why he doesn't seem to be phased by much.

The bartender character held up her end as well with some good dialogue for Chester to bounce his story off.

The long-term plot of Plastic Farm continues to build slowly, but the details along the way are quite fascinating.

The backup story was a very silly, but effective kung fu tale from the Progressions series by Coleman and Greenwood-Hyde.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cosmic Zoq #0

Title: Cosmic Zoq
Issue: #0
Date: 2011
Publisher: Underground Video Network
Writer: xax66 (
Artist: xax66 (

Quarter-sized minicomic featuring all psychedelic abstract line art. This is some very pretty work. There's no plot or characters, but it's a quirky and creative little promo freebit.

This is a promotional minicomic for the Underground Video Network site, which reports on comic conventions and other geeky subject matter. The book makes for some interesting eye candy, but might be a more effective promotional tool if it provided more details of what UVN is all about

Rating: 5.5/10

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quinn's Adventures #0

Title: Quinn's Adventures
Issue: #0
Publisher: Porterhoused Comics
Writer: Elaina Q. Porter
Artist: Elaina Q. Porter

Space pilot Quinn Frankenburger and her copilot Picky Livesworth land on a mysterious planet inhabited by giant plants with flowers that resemble Pac-Man. The pilots are promptly eaten by a T-Rex. Fortunately, there are two ways out of a T-Rex stomach: The hard way and the gross way. They opt for trying the hard way.

The story leaves off with a new villain preparing to menace the heroes.

This was cute and amusing.

Rating: 6.5/10

Friday, March 25, 2011

Moses & Bean #2

Title: Moses & Bean
Issue: #2
Date: August, 2009
Publisher: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan
Writer: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan
Artist: Matt Bryan, Jeanie Bryan

Schoolyard drama and bullying experiences sometimes tend to blur because there is so much shared experience out there. It's the strength and weakness of these types of stories. They resonate with so many of us, but they can sometimes all begin to sound the same.

Matt and Jeanie Bryan's minicomic succeeds because there is some really original, quirky material to be found here. It's good to see, since there is a need to keep telling these stories. This issue centers on Moses, the first day of school, and the battle for acceptance (or just survival). It's well-told, and the art style does a nice job of conveying the isolation and alienation that so many kids feel in school.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grixly 18

Title: Grixly
Issue: #18
Date: 2011
Publisher: Grixly
Writer: Nate McDonough
Artist: Nate McDonough

Twelve-page photocopied minicomic. Andy wakes up with a hangover and a bad case of the munchies, and spends most of this issue seeking out junk food of various kinds. Along the way, he manages to impress the morning shift newbie at the Taco Hut with his "that creepy guy" potential. He also has an amusing encounter with the sign for the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh before heading for a surreal ending when a friend offers him a ride home.

This was a bit redundant in places, and it's definitely crude for the sake of being crude, but there were some amusing jokes and the ending came out of left field and was a really nicely illustrated segment.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plastic Farm #1

Title: Plastic Farm
Issue: #1
Date: March, 2003
Publisher: Plastic Farm Press
Writer: Rafer Roberts, Sean C. Duffey
Artist: Rafer Roberts, Jake Warrenfeltz

Chester "Cheezer" Carter wakes up in a puddle of vomit with vague memories of crashing his car sometime the previous night. Other than that, the only thing on his mind is the mythical Kamikaze Kid, whose stories always begin with him riding his dinosaur into town and heading straight for the bar.

The Kamikaze Kid segment actually takes up most of this issue, with the Kid finding out that maybe asking the fortune teller to be more specific isn't such a good idea.

Rafer Roberts' story is alternately shocking, funny, and bizarre, and it's loaded with smart dialogue and clever little bits of detail. It's a solid start for the series (which is good because my wife purchased the whole series at SPACE last weekend, so I'll be reviewing a lot of these books). Definitely on the bizarre side, Plastic Farm is one of those books that will leave the reader thinking about what just happened and wondering how the story could possibly get stranger. And if this issue is any indication, the story will find a way.

Backup story is a hard SF tale by Sean C. Duffey and Rafer Roberts is well handled with aliens who actually look alien (in a Cthulhu kinda way) and a pretty complex plot.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Beautiful Young Nymph Going To Bed

Title: A Beautiful Young Nymph Going To Bed
Date: 2011 (poem originally published in 1734)
Publisher: Drowned Town Press
Writer: Jonathan Swift, E.J. Barnes
Artist: E.J. Barnes

This minicomic is an adaptation Jonathan Swift's poem of the same title, originally published in 1734. For those interested, the text of the poem can be found here.

EJ Barnes uses a woodcut style to illustrate the stanzas of the poem, which present a message quite applicable to today's world of beauty and fashion excesses. This is the 18th Century version of plastic surgery, airbrushing, and photoshopping, the creation of an ideal of beauty that proves to be a mere facade. And that facade is stripped away piece by piece through Barnes' woodcut-style illustrations. The illustrations do a great job of bringing out details that might be lost on those readers who are not up to speed on their 18th century beauty and hygiene terminology.

This is a clever and disturbing piece of work that nicely complements the original poem. EJ Barnes has captured the satirical venom and cynicism of Jonathan Swift's original work, and it is still as relevant as it was when it was published.

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewing Our Comic Haul From SPACE

My awesome and talented wife, Gynn Stella (illustrator for Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire among other works), just returned from SPACE (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus OH. Parenting responsibilities meant only one of us could attend this year, but from all indications Gynn had a great show.

In addition to selling our comics, Gynn did plenty of buying and trading. SPACE is a great opportunity to connect with other small press creators and see some truly amazing comic work that you won't find at most other shows or at most comic shops.

Over the next couple of weeks, it's my goal to review the entire haul from SPACE, starting tonight. We have some other shows coming up, including next Sunday's South Coast Toy And Comic Show in Fairhaven MA, so I might take the occasional break from the SPACE comics to review any purchases we make at South Coast or our other scheduled shows, but for the next few weeks, the comics that Gynn brought home from SPACE will be the focus of this blog. If any of them sound interesting to you, I'd encourage you to give them a try. These small press books are true labors of love for their creators.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Autumn Be In Pictures

Title: You Autumn Be In Pictures
Publisher: Lillian DeVane (
Writer: Lillian DeVane
Artist: Lillian DeVane

Eight-page photocopied minicomic by Boston area cartoonist Lillian DeVane. Three stories. The first one features a stop at a roadside peanut stand somewhere in the Florida Panhandle. Next up is a piece on running. Both of those are basically setups for a single joke. The first one, which delved a bit more into regional politics, was the more interesting of the two.

The third piece is a dating guide for single women in the Boston area, and it was quite funny and had a nice ring of truth to it.

Lots of cute little jokes an aside remarks round out the front and back covers.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Unknown Soldier #1

Title: Unknown Soldier
Issue: #1 (Free Convention Edition)
Date: December 2008
Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Alberto Ponticelli
Colorist: Oscar Celestini
Letterer: Clem Robins
Cover: Igor Kordey, Richard Corben
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote

Vertigo reinvents the classic Robert Kanigher/Joe Kubert war-comic character. The setting is Uganda, in the midst of civil war in 2002. Dr. Moses Lwanga, who fled Uganda with his family as a young boy now returns to his home country as a successful physician. But the pacifist doctor is haunted by dreams of violence and a voice that whispers the secrets of dealing death into his mind.

As expected from a Vertigo book with a "Suggested For Mature Readers" label, this is an extremely violent book. Much of that violence takes place in dream/hallucination sequences, which provides all the more chances for artist Ponticelli to apply the blood with a paintbrush.

I liked the character of Moses Lwanga, but I have a feeling that I am going to like him less as a skilled killing machine, since it was his pacifism that was one of his most appealing traits. Of course, the point of all of this is to show the inner conflict between violent and nonviolent solutions. This first issue left me skeptical, but hopeful.

There was a lot of good writing, especially on Lwanga's relationship with his wife, and the introduction of the complex Ugandan political situation was handled smoothly.

Dysart's essay at the end of the book was just as interesting as the story, and definitely worth a read. Vertigo has not shied away from addressing some very controversial issues with this book, and I admire their willingness to take them on.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Death Jr. Halloween Special

Title: Death Jr. Halloween Special
Date: 2006
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Joe Morrisey
Penciler: Guy Davis
Inker: Guy Davis
Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff
Cover: Backbone Entertainment
Editor: Nicole Tanner, Chris Charla, Mike Mika

Death Jr. and his friends go trick-or-treating. They're not afraid of ghosts or goblins, but high school students can be a frightening thing to encounter on Halloween night. Along the way, the group stops at the home of Mother Nature and her daughter, Furi.

The idea here is interesting: The Grim Reaper is just a guy with a job to do, and his son is just another kid. Good dialogue, but something of a heavy-handed joke at the end. As promotional ashcans go, this is a decent effort, but nothing to get too excited about.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us

Title: The Walking Dead
Issue: Volume 2: Miles Behind Us
Date: 2004
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Charlie Adlard
Letterer: Robert Kirkman
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Cover: Tony Moore

The second trade paperback volume (reprinting issues 7-12 of the original comic series)of the zombie apocalypse comic saga features a group of survivors on the run, looking for some kind of sanctuary to settled down in.

A gated housing community nearly becomes a deathtrap, and the group moves on to finally locate a possible haven with another small group of survivors holed up in a farm. But the leader of the farm group has a very different view on how to deal with the walking dead.

There is a ton of good character development between the moments of danger and horror in this book. The series continues to be a story about people, rather than about the zombies. As the characters are pushed to the breaking point by and increasingly desperate situation, they make new friendships, alliances, and romances, and find their own ways to cope with the destruction around them.

Kirkman's writing is sharp, and the art team of Adlard and Rathburn capture the post-apocalyptic landscape in vivid detail.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tenjho Tenge Free Preview

Title: Tenjho Tenge Free Preview
Date: 2005
Publisher: CMX (DC Comics)
Writer: Oh! great
Penciler: Oh! great
Inker: Oh! great
Editorial Director: Jim Lee

Preview of CMX's reprint of the 1997 Shueisha manga by Oh! great. A bit of research on Wikipedia reveals that there was a big kerfluffle over the content editing that was done by DC to make this title acceptable for US bookstore distribution.

This preview minicomic doesn't feature any adult content, and there's not a whole lot of plot here either. Apparently the setting is a high school where "education takes a back seat to brawling as warring clubs wreak havoc in the hallways and chaos in the classrooms, all vying to be the baddest team around". All of which makes it sound a lot like the school I worked at before my current day job.

So apparently, there's one group of students, the Juken club, who are attempting to stem this tide of violence... By beating people up, of course.

Like many manga, this one does look like it has the potential to rise above its goofy premise. First of all, the artwork by Oh! great is, well, great. The introduction of the character Aya, a katana-wielding schoolgirl, is absolutely gorgeous, and does a great job of conveying the love-at-first-sight moment that takes place when Aya first appears. The character interactions also look like they have potential, and the preview hints at some complex relationships, romantic and otherwise.

There really isn't enough story in this mini to get a good sense of the manga, but it is certainly a pretty book, and there are some flashes of brilliance in the dialogue.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Elmspire Tales

Title: Elmspire Tales
Date: 2010
Publisher: J. Freels
Writer: J. Freels
Artist: J. Freels

Humorous minicomic set in a fantasy city. Comic is completely uncredited, but I was able to get the information above via Google search.

The story concerns the theft of a magical crown that is sought after by two rival sects. An unfortunate fence gets caught in the middle of conflict between fanatics of both cults as he tries to unload the crown at a nice profit.

The minicomic layout and small panels make the action a bit hard to follow and the characters difficult to distinguish in places, and the story is a bit convoluted, but there is a good sense of depth to the world. Plenty of potential here.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Blood Rider Preview

Title: The Blood Rider Preview
Date: 2008
Publisher: Free Lunch Comics & Thunder Hammer Publishing
Writer: Mark Tarrant
Artist: Matt Ryan

Ashcan format preview book that introduces Ezekiel Carson, a vampire gunslinger in the Old West.

I liked the "Weird West" feel of this introductory story. Carson arrives in a small town to found most of the populace hanging and the rest among the ranks of the walking dead. He proceeds to dispense some frontier justice.

Nice artwork, particularly on the faces. This ashcan also includes a two-page preview of Ezekiel Carson's adventures in prose form.

I like the mix of vampire lore with Old West action. This was a good preview that got me interested in reading more about the Blood Rider's adventures.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, March 14, 2011

2099 Limited

Title: 2099 Limited
Date: 1993
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Pat Mills, Tony Skinner, John Francis Moore, Peter David, Gerard Jones
Penciler: Tom Morgan, Pat Broderick, Grant Miehm, Rick Leonardi, Ron Lim, Dwayne Turner
Inker: James Palmiotti, Tom Florimonte, Bud La Rosa, Al Williamson, Adam Kubert, Dwayne Turner, Kyle Baker

Ah, the bright and shiny days of the early '90s, when comics were, well, shiny. This is a preview ashcan giveaway that was packaged with issue #7 of Hero magazine. It previews the full line of 2099 titles from Marvel, which feature one of the many zillions of possible alternate futures of the Marvel Universe. The world is a fairly generic dystopia that is played for laughs half the time (a thirty-mile long mall in California, and so on). The X-Men 2099 story looks like it has the most potential here, with a young mutant named Fitzgerald making his way across the desert to a refugee city that exists outside of the corporate totalitarian power structure.

Punisher 2099 had a generic fight scene featuring what had to be the dumbest "smart" weapon ever. It's a guided needle-bullet that never misses, but always lodges in the target's arm and then burrows to the heart, which of course gives Punisher time to remove it. Um... Why not just program it to always shoot the target in the head? Oh, right. Because that would make sense.

Spider-Man 2099 concentrated on character interactions. The spider-man character doesn't appear in costume. Much like the Doom 2099, Ravage 2099, and 2099 Unlimited (featuring Hulk 2099) bits, there really wasn't enough story to get a sense of what it was all about.

None of these titles rose above the level of generic in these previews, and the editors might have been better off devoting the space to show a bit more from one or two titles rather than trying to preview the whole line.

But the cover is shiny.

Rating: 4/10

Sunday, March 13, 2011

X-Men #175 Wizard World Boston Edition

Title: X-Men
Issue: #175 (Wizard World Boston Edition)
Date: 2005
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Peter Milligan
Penciler: Salvador Larroca
Inker: Danny Miki, Allen Martinez
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit
Editor: Mike Marts

This is a special edition featuring a variant sketch cover and the Wizard World Boston logo.

The story centers on an outbreak of animal mutations in Africa that brings an X-Men team to investigate. With Logan, Ororo, Havok, Polaris, Iceman, Rogue, and Gambit on the team (and Emma Frost calling the shots from back home), the mutant crocodiles don't stand much of a chance.

Ororo really takes center stage here as her return to Africa opens the floodgates of mixed emotions. Logan, meanwhile, is just being Logan.

This was fast paced, with some good character development for Ororo, and at least some basic attempts at character development for the rest of the team. The surprise ending isn't all that shocking, but it at least serves the thicken the plot.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mortal Coils #2

Title: Mortal Coils
Issue: #2
Date: 2003
Publisher: Red Eye Press
Writer: A. David Lewis
Penciler: Evan Quiring
Inker: James Cosper
Letterer: Dan Cooney
Cover: Maria Sundqvist, Jean Paul Torres
Editor: A. David Lewis

Two stories here, only tangentially related (there's a little throwaway bit in the background of a panel in the first story that links it to the second story).

First up is the tale of a TV network "hatchet-woman" sent to deliver a message to a technologically advanced production studio. Marlo Kurtz has to be tough to do her job in the high-stakes business world where she operates, but she dreams of a world where she can put her toughness to a whole different kind of test. The mysterious studio might just prove to be a bigger opportunity than she imagines.

The second story recounts a meeting between two old gamblers in a casino. As in the first tale, not everything is as it appears.

Both stories were clever and imaginative, with characters who held my interest and plots with some intriguing twists. Both felt like they could have used a longer or more elaborate treatment, and it will be interesting to see if this series ever revisits either scenario.

This is some good storytelling in comic form, with plots that are mature without resorting to gratuitous sex and gore. Not everything is explained, but for these stories, the bit of mystery is better than having the bacground spoon-fed to the reader. Artwork is effective, and has a couple of really good moments.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Amazing Spider-Man Sketchbook / Astonishing X-Men Sketchbook

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man Sketchbook / Astonishing X-Men Sketchbook
Date: 2009
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dugan Trodglen
Artist: Phil Jimenez
Editor: Richard Rodriguez, Arune Singh, Erik Lebron, Matthew Lichtenstein, John Rhett Thomas

Flip book. This freebie from Marvel spotlights the Gauntlet storyline from Amazing Spider-Man as well as Warren Ellis' run on Astonishing X-Men.

The X-Men portion is primarily an extended interview with artist Phil Jimenez, who comes off as a really enthusiastic guy who's a true fan of the genre, the business, and the characters he's working with. He also goes into some detail on his process, with some nice insights into how he works with Warren Ellis' script. There is plenty of his artwork to liven up the text.

Flip the book over and you get an extended preview of the Gauntlet storyline in Amazing Spider-Man. I've never read those issues, and I tend to be a bit dubious about Marvel's handling of Spider-Man lately, but I have to admit, this preview did its job of selling the product. I really like the focus on classic villains. The hype does occasionally fall into the rather tired territory of claiming that they are going to make a character "darker" (really? how original!), but there is still a lot to like about a series that will bring back guys like Sandman, Electro, Rhino, Lizard, Mysterio, and Doc Ock as the major opposition for Spidey. No idea how this series turned out in execution, but I will at least grant that showed potential here.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hot Stuff: The Little Devil Halloween Special

Title: Hot Stuff: The Little Devil Halloween Special
Date: 2009
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
CHot Stuff the Little Devil by: Harvey Comics

This 2010 ashcan introduces another addition to Dark Horse's line of classic Harvey comics. Hot stuff is generallya pretty smooth operator, but even the Little Devil can get thrown off his game like he does when a baby redbird mistakes him for its mother and imprints on him. Hot Stuff then goes on to save the bird from a succession of dangers.

The other main story here involves a very silly trip to the moon and even sillier aliens. There are also a couple of single-page gag strips.

I'm not entirely sure I get what the Hot Stuff characters is all around, but the stories had a logical flow to them and everything seemed to at least be interesting.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Good Grief

Title: Good Grief
Date: 2010
Publisher: Toby Costello
Writer: Toby Costello
Penciler: Toby Costello
Inker: Toby Costello

Twelve-page minicomic by Toby Costello that outlines the classic stages of grief through the analogy of being, well, pooped upon. Even poop has its uses, once you reach the stage of acceptance. Good concise, simple explanation with accompanying illustrations. The inside and outside covers are full color, and this has very good production quality as minicomics go. It's an entertaining vignette.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spider-Man Halloween Special 2004

Title: Spider-Man Halloween Special 2004
Date: 2004
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Todd Dezago, Sean McKeever, Mike Raicht
Penciler: Jonboy Meyers, Makoto Nakatsuka, Lou Kang, Patrick Scherberger
Inker: Pat Davidson, Makoto Nakatsuka
Letterer: VC's Randy Gentile, David Sharpe
Colorist: Udon's Larry Moliner, Chris Sotomayor, Digital Rainbow, Sotocolor's J. Rauch
Cover: Roger Cruz, Randy Green, Makoto Nakatsuka, Shane Davis, Sotocolor
Editor: Barber, Cadenhead, Cebulski

Not much Halloween-themed in this. It's essentially a preview book for four Marvel Age (Marvel's superhero line for younger readers) series: Spider-Man, Spider-Man Team-Up, Fantastic Four, and Hulk.

Nostalgia was running thick here. I recognized three out of the four stories as reworkings of early-issue stories from their respective characters. First up was an updating of "Spider-Man Tackles The Torch" from an early issue of Amazing Spider-Man. There were a couple of amusing one-liners, but for the most part, Peter and Johnny both act like jerks in a forced attempt to build up a rivalry between them. I didn't like the Marvel-Age look for Johnny, although the interpretation of The Thing worked pretty well.

Second story was a remake of the "assemble the team" sequence from the first issue of Fantastic Four. The new version of the FF-Signal was pretty awesome. Again, I wasn't a fan of the art style for Johnny. The rest of the team was better. Since it's just the opening sequence, not much really ends up happening in this preview.

The last two stories were even shorter, to the point of really just being fragments. I did really enjoy Peter Parker's genuine awe at meeting Captain America in the preview of Marvel-Age Spider-Man Team Up.

A lot of my enjoyment of this book came from having read the original versions of the stories, something the book's target audience might not have done. As a result, this may miss the mark as a preview when taken out of the context of nostalgia.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, March 7, 2011

Richie Rich Gems #41

Title: Richie Rich Gems
Issue: #41
Date: 1982
Publisher: Harvey Publications

No credits for any of the creative team.

Richie Rich has to deal with an army of thieves lured by news of a delivery of giant gems (dropped by helicopter) to the Rich mansion. There are also a couple of quick 2-page gemstone-related gag strips, followed by a text story and a pair of Stone-Age Richie stories. The bit with Stone-Age Richie getting all of his pet dinosaurs to help out with Richie's father's gold-mining operation was cute, and had a nice "kindness to animals" moral.

I'm not a huge fan of Richie Rich as a concept, just because there doesn't seem to be much reason for the "kid who has everything" to be all that heroic, and the comedy is mostly pretty obvious.

Still, there were some laughs to be had here. File it under harmless fun.

Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Robo Ninja Monkey Vs. Samurai Pig

Title: Robo Ninja Monkey Vs. Samurai Pig
Date: 2010
Publisher: Stephen Bobbett
Writer: Stephen Bobbett
Artist: Stephen Bobbett

Billed as an "Open Source Comic" this minicomic was based on suggestions gathered in a 24-hour period from the creator's twitter followers.

The resulting story is about as random as you might imagine for a stunt like this. There's a chupacabra, kraken, laser-shooting unicorns, and a pig with a samurai sword hidden in his banana. Somehow, it all adds to up to a funny and surprisingly coherent plot with some pretty funny dialogue.

This is a fun book and a good example of some of the creative ways that comic book creators are making use of technology.

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Benjamin Franklin: History's Greatest Time Traveler

Title: Benjamin Franklin: History's Greatest Time Traveler: How I spent My Summer Vacation
Date: 2002
Publisher: Ron LeBrasseur (
Writer: Ron LeBrasseur
Artist: Ron LeBrasseur

This was originally submitted to the SPX 2002 anthology, and is in minicomic form and billed as the "story SPX didn't want you to see".

Derek needs to improvise an oral report for the first day of class about how he spent his summer vacation. So, of course he tells the tale of how he helped time traveler Benjamin Franklin defeat Fifty-Foot Mecha Lincoln. The teacher is not all that impressed. A couple of funny jokes at the end; the rest of the story is fairly straightforward.

Rating: 5.5/10

Happy Exelauno Day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

February 2011 Statistics

Here are some stats for February 2011.

Total Comics Reviewed: 29
Newly Purchased Comics Reviewed: 13
Comics Reviewed From The Backlog: 16
Marvel Comics Reviewed: 3
DC Comics Reviewed: 3
Minicomics Reviewed: 10
Manga Reviewed: 1
Conventions Attended: 2

Highest Rated Comics:

American Born Chinese (8.5/10)
Kitty Hawk: The Sting of Defeat (8/10)
Namor #2 (8/10)
Xoc #3 (8/10)
Lai Wan #2 (8/10)

Lowest Rated Comics:

Captain Universe/X-23 #1 (3/10)
The Smurfs Halloween (4/10)
Vampirella: Revelations #0 (4/10)

Creators With Multiple Reviews This Month: Pam Bliss (2), C.J. Henderson (2), Kieran Yanner (2), Thompson Knox (2), Lori G (2)

Average Rating For February 2011: 6.500/10

All-Time Highest-Rated Comics:

Amelia Rules: When The Past Is A Present (9.5/10)
Batman: Gotham Knights #6 (8.5/10)
American Born Chinese (8.5/10)

Small Town Type #3

Title: Small Town Type
Issue: #3
Date: 2010
Publisher: Fat Cat Funnies
Writer: Ian Nichols
Artist: Ian Nichols

This is the third issue of Ian Nichols' reinterpretation of the Superman myth, and the plot really kicks into high gear here. We get the introduction of major villains, plus a big shift toward revealing the world as one where super-powered beings are not exactly a new or unknown thing.

The cast is expanded substantially, but the lead character Billy remains the focus, it it's his personality that continues to make this a story worth reading. This is a great example of how a "post-modern" take on the superhero genre does not automatically have to mean endless angst and pages upon pages of gore.

This is a lead character, and a book, with heart. It's got a nostalgic feel (including a pretty cool splash-page tribute to FF #1), with a plot that is growing in complexity and depth.

Rating: 8/10

This is the six and last review of a small stack of indy comics I picked up on Saturday at Million Year Picnic in Cambridge MA.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucille Brawl #1

Title: Lucille Brawl
Issue: #1
Date: 2007
Publisher: Ratticus Redeemed
Writer: Krystal (Ratticus) Mickael
Artist: Krystal (Ratticus) Mickael
Cover: Stephen Polczynski

The costumed adventurer known as Lucille Brawl got her start in a daydream in Austin Texas, while on vacation from her home town of Chicago. She's got a set of tights and a short skirt, a police scanner, and a sidekick who mumbles unintelligibly through the gas mask he never takes off. She has to ride city buses to crime scenes, which means she's not exactly arriving in the nick of time most nights.

This photocopied minicomic is an amusing and charming take on the idea of an ordinary person who decides to become a superhero. Lucille tries to fight for good, but not always all that hard. There are plenty of reminders here that trying to be heroic is difficult, without the need to to into the excessive violence that many stories of this style take.

The art is done in more of an illustration than a paneled style, and it works well in most places. Print quality could have been better, with some dialogue pretty faded from the photocopy process (though none illegible in my copy).

Rating: 7/10

I actually have one more comic from Million Year Picnic to review, but I left it with my bag at work, so I'm turning my attention back to the (massive) backlog. I believe I picked this one up at SPACE 2007.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Treatise Upon The Jam...

Title: A Treatise Upon The Jam; Being A Dialogue in the Socratic Style Between the Authors of an Unnam'd Interlocutor; Concerning Collaborative Approaches To Art, In Pictorial Narrative & Otherwise
Date: 2004
Publisher:Isaac Cates ( & Mike Wenthe (
Writer: Isaac Cates, Mike Wenthe
Artist: Isaac Cates, Mike Wenthe

Yes, that really is the title.

This is a dialogue, in comic form, about the nature of collaboration in comic book creation. They also discuss the difference between true collaboration and the "assembly-line" process used in the "bullpens" of major comic book publishers. The conversation touches on the concept of comic jams and the serialization of comic stories. There are comparisons to theater and poetry, and finally an examination of the nature of art itself. Quite a bit of territory for a tiny minicomic.

The art is charming. As the three characters have their discussions, the artists have provided a constantly shifting series of backgrounds that thematically reflect the topics of conversation.

This is a quick read, but it's a good quality discussion, and one that I'd recommend to anyone who does collaborative work on any kind of creative process.

Rating: 8/10

This is the fifth review of a small stack of indy comics I picked up on Saturday at Million Year Picnic in Cambridge MA.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Salvager Kain #1

Title: Salvager Kain
Issue: #1
Date: 2007
Publisher: Fool's Gold Press
Writer: Paul Sloboda
Artist: Paul Sloboda

Fantasy/comedy half-sized minicomic (which serves as backstory to the Salvager Kain Webcomic). A powerful empire is surrounded by a vast wall, and anyone convicted of serious offenses against the empire is banished to the wilderness and with their mind wiped clean of all memories.

One such offender, exiled with a traitor's brand, takes the name Kain. Unfortunately, his attempts to make friends beyond the wall seem to lead him into more and more incompetent company.

The comedy elements work here, and the setting is intriguing. Unfortunately, there aren't really any particularly likable characters. This may be part of the point, but I found that the emphasis on whining contributed to some loss of interest by the time I got through this first issue. There is definitely potential here, especially with the main character showing the beginnings of some growth, but a better supporting cast would be a big help.

Rating: 5.5/10

This is the fourth review of a small stack of indy comics I picked up on Saturday at Million Year Picnic in Cambridge MA. This review also marks two months of Comic A Day without a day missed!